Trump in Iowa
Credit: Flickr/Max Goldberg

On Tuesday, White House correspondent April Ryan asked Trump if he was finally ready to apologize to the so-called “Central Park Five,” given that they were exonerated after he called for their execution. Here is the president’s response.

Why would you bring that question up now? It’s an interesting time to bring it up. You have people on both sides of that. They admitted their guilt. If you look at Linda Fairstein, and if you look at some of prosecutors, they think that the city should never have settled that case. So we’ll leave it at that.

He didn’t just refuse to apologize, he pointed to the teenage boys’ coerced confessions and held up the Manhattan sex crimes prosecutor who handled the case. Repeating his response to neo-Nazis marching violently in Charlottesville in 2017, he claims that there are two sides to the Central Park case.

The incident in question happened 30 years ago and the facts demonstrate that one side has been completely exonerated while the other has been disgraced. The boys Trump wanted to see executed were not only proven to be innocent of the rape and assault charges by a confession from the actual perpetrator combined with DNA evidence, they won a $41 million settlement from the city of New York for the way they were treated.

The “other side” Trump referred to is represented by Linda Fairstein, who has come under increased scrutiny since the release of Ava DuVernay’s series “When They See Us.”.

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In an ope-ed published by the Wall Street Journal since the release of the series, Fairstein not only continued to defend herself, she also still claimed that the five boys who have been exonerated were actually guilty. Given the overwhelming evidence in this case, the fact that she does so should be all that is necessary to impugn her integrity.

Perhaps the most powerful evidence that Faistein doesn’t occupy a side that is worthy of consideration came in the form of an appeals case back in 1993.

Fairstein’s behavior seemed so outrageous that in the 1993 appeals decision on Salaam’s case [one of the boys charged in the Central Park case] then appellate court judge Vito Titone specifically named her in his dissenting opinion and blasted the entire interrogation process. He recently told Newsday, “I was concerned about a criminal justice system that would tolerate the conduct of the prosecutor, Linda Fairstein, who deliberately engineered the 15-year-old’s confession. . . . Fairstein wanted to make a name. She didn’t care. She wasn’t a human.”

That is the person Trump just named as occupying the other side of this story—contrary to all of the facts that we know to be true.

During an interview with Maurice DuBois, DuVernay said that her goal in making the miniseries, which was captured perfectly in the title “When They See Us,” was to ask everyone, “what do you see when you see black boys?” She points out that the answer for many people is exactly what these boys were called: “wolf pack, animals, criminals.” Based on the president’s response to Ryan’s question on Tuesday, we know exactly what he sees.

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